Type 2 Diabetes – coping with weight management

This article was originally posted on 15th October 2018

This is an update to my previous piece and is regarding how I’m coping with weight management, and some of the things I’ve done over the last year or two.

One thing I have discovered is how hard it is to keep weight off, it is not easy, in fact I have tended to put it back on. I’m just lucky that, at the time of writing, I’m still in remission with my diabetes. I have been trying to find different foods to eat based on calorie information not the “traffic lights” system as that just fails to work. Also I’ve tried to find alternatives to what I’d call my favourite items which tend to be sweet things. It means adjusting my thinking a bit.

To control portions I initially used my scales to weigh things and see if I could find visual clues to save me taking them out every time. I am fortunate that my cereal bowls have lines on them so that when I put the correct amount of cereal or muesli into the bowl I registered how far up to the lines it came. I did the same with the pasta I cook, single layer at bottom of a specific pot with small gaps – in other words it doesn’t fully cover the bottom of the pot.

I do try and buy multibags of stuff but for some items they don’t come in the right size, Popchips for example. If I do buy a bigger bag, say 150g as far as I can I try and split these bags by putting a portion into a small bowl, sealing up the big bag and taking the bowl through to my living room leaving the rest of the bag until another day. It works most of the time, not always. As for those boxes of mini bites, yes they can help but I’ve found I have to be careful which ones I buy. Mini caramel shortcake tends to get eaten in 3/4 days not the 9 days I tried to allocate (18 bites, 2 per day). I manage better with the mini gingerbread men for some reason. For example, with my afternoon mug of coffee I tend to eat 2 biscuits, yes I can make then plain digestives but that’s 70 cals per item, 140 cals in total. Instead, I have 2 mini gingerbread men biscuits, these are 40 cals each thus only 80 cals in total. I’m still having 2 biscuits but, fewer calories – win!

To help monitor my intake initially, I used my FitBit app for a period of 3 months. The app has a bar scanner to help find things in the food database but most of the time it couldn’t exactly find what I was purchasing or gave the wrong information. It will find branded stuff easier than own labels. There was nothing in the food database for Nisa which uses the Heritage brand for example. I tended to create my own items and just log the calories (cals) not the rest of the “nutrition information” that showed up if you scanned an actual brand name. I eventually gave up but, have gone back to it now and again to help monitor for a few weeks. In various supermarkets/grocers there are calorie controlled ready meals for one. I’m not talking about the Weight-watchers range but the supermarkets own version of these. Some are the same product. Marks & Spencer have their “Count on Us” range which can be varied and different choices. But, the idea of having them 7 days per week is rather off putting plus, are they not “processed food”?

I’ve also tried “pots for one” from Cook food. These are all under 400 cals and I tend to have them for an evening meal. However, I’ve limited space in my freezer and can only order 8 at any one time which usually means paying for delivery, as the nearest outlet is over 20 miles away and not easy to get to by public transport – think 4 hours travel time there and back.

It’s been quite interesting to see new products come along which give calorie content. The Coop’s own cider brand – Tillington Hills – has calorie information on the 500ml bottle. If you read closely that size of bottle is 180 calories. Another recent find is by Fibre 1 which is usually little cakes about 90 cals each but, may be a bit sweet for taste. Danone have recently introduced a “Light and Free” greek style yogurt range around 60 cals per pot – depends on which flavour you go for. With regard to crisps, I am opting for the baked version. Multigrain snacks are even better. Corn & rice cakes are also an alternative to crisps and biscuits but I prefer the flavoured version or the ones with chocolate or yogurt. However, they tend to have more calories. Instead of chocolate snack bars I’m eating low calories cereal bars. Started off with Alpen Light but there are now other variants done by the supermarkets under their own labels. Go Ahead also produce some low cal stuff that I find acceptable.

These come in handy when you go on holiday. I tend to go by train so you have long travel days with not much exercise. Instead of buying food on the train or in a rail station I tend to pack some of these low calorie snack bars, in case I can’t find any when away, they help. Going on holiday is one of the big problems with weight control, you are away from home and what you normally eat. I tend to have a bigger breakfast when away but do avoid the fried stuff. I also don’t take the 3 course evening meals and cut one course out unless, I’ve managed to do plenty of walking. Mind my most recent holiday was 5 course evening meals with one course being salad. I tended to keep that one until the main course arrived and dumped it on the plate.

As I said at the start keeping my weight under control is not easy, I’ve put more on than I wanted to and am doing my best to get it off having managed to loose 3Kg since my my recent summer holiday. That’s since early July 2018 to now early October. I’ve done most of this by adjusting how much I eat. Mainly by cutting down the calories to 800-1,000 every alternate day and watching I don’t over eat to compensate on my normal food days. It’s not been easy and I’m not sure how long I want/can keep this up.